The ship's engines rumbled as it descended through the atmosphere. A Faro peered through a window anxiously, looking out at this new world. His new world, a vast, watery change from the old.
Reinard Artego almost fell from his seat as the ship's feet collided with the firm ground. The belts holding him in were clearly not designed for someone of his stature, but he was not going to complain.
No, he needed to stay under the radar, and complaining would only draw attention to himself. The dusty tan Faro stood on shaky legs, hoisting his backpack over his shoulder. Everything he owned was in this bag, his entire life summed up into a change of clothes and a dagger. He had no doubt that he would be needing the knife, especially on this planet. His body would be at risk here, not just his life.
Reinard reached into his shirt, pulling out a picture of a red furred tigress standing on a beach. Themis, the only person he knew on this planet, and his lifeline. They had met nearly ten years ago when the Egaro stumbled across him in a theater on Athalea. He had only snuck into the building to escape from the bitter wind that attacked him from every angle. Themis had taken one look at him and invited Reinard to sit with her. It had been nerve-wracking sitting next to an Egaro, the very opposite of all a Faro was. But Themis had been quiet and gentle with him, making sure she never invaded Reinard's space.
By the time they left the theatre, the two had traded addresses, Themis promising to write when she returned to Egara. It had been the start of a long and pleasant friendship. Sure, it took weeks between each letter sent and received, but that only added a sense of delight as Reinard waited for his friend to write back.
And when his segal had been killed in an accident, leaving Reinard with nowhere to go, Themis had offered him a place on Egara, going so far as to send the Faro a ticket on a ship.
He was glad to be away from his old home. Reinard had doubts that the accident that left him alone in the world had truly been an accident. There were still those who bore the Artegos ill will for the role they had played in bringing Oyheuf into the Alliance five centuries before. Reinard was the last of his family now, heir to a fast dwindling fortune that had consisted of barely twenty thousand credits that he would receive when he turned twenty, something that seemed a distant impossibility for the seventeen year old Faro.
Reinard followed a line of Egaro through the ship, his bare feet slapping on the metal floor. Windows looked out at a dark world, small pinpricks of light spread out in the distance. This was his new home now, far from the Faro who wished him harm.
The small fox descended from the ship, looking around. Themis had said she would meet him here.
The fox spun around, spying Themis waving at him. He hurried toward her, a relieved sigh escaping him.
"Fuck, I'm glad to see you," he sighed, wrapping his arms around the tall, red tigress.
"Same here," Themis smiled. "The trip was okay?"
"It was… long. And cold. I thought those ships were supposed to be heated."
"I'm sorry. I didn't think a better ticket would be wise under the circumstances."
"No, no, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to complain. Trust me, I'm grateful for what you did for me," Reinard said quickly.
"I know you are," Themis smiled soothingly. "There is… a problem though. I got permission for you to live in the old stargazer's home, however, you have to be on my company's pay to live there."
"I can't do-"
The Egaro held up a hand.
"I know, you can't work in the brothel. But you can work in the film area. As a camera person, no touching necessary. Or, I could find an apartment for you somewhere, but that might take some time," she suggested. "We agreed to this already, remember? It's just you need to be a little more outgoing. Instead of cleaning the rooms, you get to film Egaro having fun."
Reinard frowned as they approached a watercraft, slipping inside after the Egaro. He had agreed to work in Themis' porneo, but he hadn't expected to be so... up close with those involved.
"So… I have to watch tigers have sex?"
"Well, film them. And you don't have to. Do you know how to cook Egaran food? I have a client who works as a cook, and she loves to help me with little things."
"A joke about my size? Really?" Reinard snorted.
"Well it was coming eventually. I figured I'd just get it out of the way," Themis smirked.
Reinard rolled his eyes.
"No, I don't know how to cook Egaran food."
"It shouldn't be too hard to teach you. If you're interested. But you won't be able to stay at the house if you work in the restaurant," Themis warned.
"Okay… well, I suppose I should see the house before I decide," Reinard said. "If that's okay?"
"Of course," Themis shrugged. "We're already heading out there; one of my favourite tavernas is on the island nearby."
"How far is it exactly?"
He tried to look out the window, but like everything else on this planet, it wasn't sized for a Faro.
"Not far. You have to remember, it was built by someone who lived on his ship. He would need something near the planet port," Themis shrugged. "Twenty minutes and we should be there."
"Why is it known as the starfarer's place? I'm sure there are plenty of other Egaro in space."
"Because he's the first Egaro to discover four sentient races," Themis shrugged.
"Four?! No way…"
"Sure. Nekos, humans, elves, and cervidas. Well, and werewolves, but apparently those aren't counted. And he gave the claim for the cervidas to his mate. But we all know it was him."
"And Segal wondered why I never wanted into the IEFL. All the good discoveries have been made," Reinard pouted.
"I don't know about that. But I can assure you, traveling the galaxy would be very lonely. Why not stay here and enjoy a harem of tigers?" Themis smirked.
"You're not making a good argument," Reinard said, shaking his head.
"The house will do that for me. I'm just enjoying watching you squirm. Not even our youngest cub squirms like you," Themis laughed. "Oh! Speaking of the house…"
She pointed out the building, standing tall on a rocky mound. Straining his neck, Reinard could see a small land bridge connecting the island to another island. He figured there would be a lot of walking in the near future.
"It looks nice. As long as it doesn't fall into the ocean…"
"Oh no, this place has been standing for near two hundred years now. It's nice and sturdy. Besides, the waves usually hit the south shore, opposite to the house itself. Though I've heard there's a cave on the island somewhere."
The boat hit a small pier, the engines cutting off abruptly. Themis paid the driver, helping Reinard out of the boat.
"He'll wait for us. Let's drop your bag off and then grab some lunch."
Reinard nodded his agreement, following the tiger up a ridiculous amount of stairs toward the house. It wasn't that bad, he supposed. Not much worse than back home… though that wasn't home anymore…
At the top, they found a small patio, the cement shattered by a tree poking through. Themis made a quiet noise of disgust, heading toward the front door.
"Um… so I spent yesterday trying to get this place somewhat liveable, but there are a few spots I missed," she said, unlocking the door.
"Am I allowed to change some things if I stay here?"
"You'll have to ask the boss, she's the one who actually owns this place. I doubt she would mind though; anything you do has to be an improvement honestly. The island itself needs a lot of care."
"That's no problem. I have to admit, staying here seems preferable to sleeping in an alpine pass in winter," Reinard chuckled wryly.
"Oh, I don't doubt it," Themis agreed as they stepped inside. "Thankfully you will never do that again."
Strange music suddenly started up as they entered the house, Reinard looking around in alarm.
"Oh, that's me, relax," Themis chuckled, pulling a phone from her clothes.
A cord extended, a bud entering an ear as the tiger let out a cheerful hello and stepped back outside. Reinard shook his head with a sigh, wandering further into the house. Everything was giant sized to him, and he frowned. Not that he'd been expecting Themis to make everything small for him. This was certainly going to be hard to live in, but he had a feeling he'd have that problem anywhere on this planet.
Reinard yelped, dropping as he spun with his knife in hand.
"Whoa, calm down, it's just me," Themis sighed. "There's an emergency at the porneo. I need to go deal with it. Why don't you stay here for the night and I'll treat you to dinner tomorrow instead?"
"Okay," Reinard said shakily, sheathing his blade. "Yeah, that sounds good to me…"
"Great, that gives you a day to think. I'll see you tomorrow afternoon, okay?"
The Faro nodded, and Themis hurried back outside, leaving him alone in the strange house.